Luján Statement on Final Regulations for Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act
Santa Fe, N.M. – U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the lead sponsor for the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act, issued the following statement after FEMA announced the final regulations, which will be published on Tuesday:
“As the communities continue to deal with the aftermath of these historic fires, I welcome the announcement of the final regulations to implement the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act that I introduced and President Biden signed into law. This vital legislation helps New Mexicans who lost their homes, businesses, and livelihoods as a result of the fires recover.
“The federal government started these fires, and now it has a moral obligation to help New Mexicans who were impacted. The $3.95 billion secured through this legislation goes above and beyond traditional federal recovery programs. At every turn, I pressed the federal government to work quickly and more efficiently to get relief out the door.
“In January, I sent a detailed letter to FEMA requesting changes to the Claims Office process to better reflect the geographic, economic, and cultural aspects of the communities. The final regulations show FEMA listened – from removing the 25 percent formulas on trees, landscaping and mitigation efforts, to more clearly incorporating damages that occurred after or were worsened by the fires, to an expansion of the timeline to receive reimbursements for mental health expenses.
“This process will not be perfect, but the final regulations clearly lay out how impacted New Mexicans can receive assistance while ensuring that compensation reaches those who need it most. Now, I will continue to work with the Administration and state and local partners to get this funding out to families as quickly as possible.”
During President Biden’s visit to New Mexico in August, Senator Luján hand-delivered a letter to the President regarding the implementation of the Hermit’s Peak/Fire Assistance Act. Luján received a commitment from President Biden to speed the relief process up.
Last year, the New Mexico Congressional Democrats, led by Luján, successfully passed the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act to establish the Hermit’s Peak Claim Office within FEMA and provide $3.95 billion for New Mexico families and businesses impacted by the wildfire. The legislation also required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to cover 100 percent cost share for its programs. Additionally, Luján championed and secured language to provide direct funding for the repairs and replacement of the water treatment facility in Las Vegas, New Mexico to ensure the community has access to clean drinking water.
Earlier this year, Lujan called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to publish final regulations for the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act.